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Sarah Cotler, right, celebrates with her mother, Karen Cotler, who presented her daughter with her professional pin during the School of Nursing pinning ceremony, held Sunday at Belmontís Curb Center. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Pinning ceremony honors School of Nursing students

BY: KATHY RIVERS

Sarah Slater, center, poses with her grandmother,  Wilma Slater, left, and VUSN Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., during the ceremony. (photo by Dana Johnson)

8/08/2008 - Sarah Slater, center, poses with her grandmother, Wilma Slater, left, and VUSN Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., during the ceremony. (photo by Dana Johnson)

More than 200 Vanderbilt University School of Nursing students received their professional pins of Nursing at a ceremony on Sunday.

VUSN Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., welcomed a crowd of more than 2,000 family members and supporters to the ceremony, held at Belmont's Curb Center.

Vanderbilt's program begins and ends in August. The pinning ceremony formally recognizes students when they finish the program, and many students return to campus for Vanderbilt's official commencement celebration in the spring.

“No matter where your education and interests take you, you will always have a strong connection to Vanderbilt,” said Conway-Welch, addressing the audience.

State Sen. Douglas Henry and State Rep. Brenda Gilmore were special guests at this year's ceremony. The Tennessee General Assembly members presented Conway-Welch with a proclamation recognizing the many milestones in the School's 100-year history, an anniversary that will be celebrated throughout this academic year.

Linda Norman, D.S.N., R.N., senior associate dean for Academics, explained the professional pin is a symbol that dates back to Florence Nightingale.

“The pin of each School of Nursing is unique, and only graduates of that school may wear the pin as a statement that they have completed that program,” Norman said. “It represents pride and individual achievement.”

During the ceremony, students in each specialty area in the school were recognized with awards for excellence in their area of focus, presented by their program director:

• The Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program recognized Katie Rattray;

• Tish Anderson was honored in the Adult Nurse Practitioner Program;

• Samantha Eagle was the top student in Clinical Management;

• The Family Nurse Practitioner Program Award went to Carol Nester;

• Kristin Fotopoulos was chosen from the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program;

• Richard Aries was chosen as the Nursing Informatics recipient;

• Cindy Kuecks was recognized in the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program;

• Brian Pollock took home the award for the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program;

• Lydia Vincent was chosen for the specialty award in the Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Program.

Other awards included the Amy Frances Brown prize for excellence in writing, given to student Tracey DeWire. Penny Waugh, M.S.N., instructor in Nursing, was honored with the Julia Hereford Award by the students for her contributions outside the classroom or clinic. The student body also honored Jennifer Kim, M.S.N., R.N., assistant professor of Nursing, with the Sara K. Archer Award for her outstanding contributions to teaching and scholarliness.

A total of 227 students completed the nursing program. Five were recognized for completing their post-master's work.

Twenty-three of the students recognized during the ceremony were pinned by an immediate family member who is also a member of the nursing profession.

Vanderbilt nurse-midwifery students carry one additional semester of classes and are officially pinned in a December ceremony.

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